Let the airfare wars among carriers on the Anchorage-to-Seattle route commence.
Late last month, jetBlue announced it would start serving Seattle nonstop from Anchorage. On Sunday, the New York-based carrier published introductory prices as low as $117 each way.
Although the first nonstop southbound flight is 12:35 a.m. May 17, the bargain rates start a couple of days later, on May 19. Seats are scarce right now in May, but the discount rates are more-readily available beginning June 23. A slightly higher rate, $127 each way, is available through July and August.
All of jetBlue's flights now are available at jetBlue.com, with more seats available all summer long at the introductory rates of $117 through June 26 and $127 thereafter through Sept. 3, 2013. Fares are $2 higher coming back from Seattle ($119 one-way through June 26 and $129 one-way thereafter).
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines responded on Monday by matching jetBlue's rates, trimming more than 50 percent off of previously-published fares.
Alaska is offering its best fares between Anchorage and Seattle on red-eye flights that depart about the same time as jetBlue's flight 908 (departing Anchorage at 12:35 a.m.). Specifically, Alaska is offering the $117 rate on flights 110 (departing at 1:00 a.m.) and 146 (departing at 1:15 a.m.). On the return, Alaska is offering its best rates on flights departing right around jetBlue's flight #907 (departing 8:15 p.m.): Alaska flight #111 (departing 8:00p.m.) and #141 (departing Seattle at 8:30 p.m.).
The cost for the flights increase about $10 each way on June 26. But here's a kicker: Alaska's discounted flights continue through Nov. 11, 2013. JetBlue's service between Anchorage and Seattle is set to end Sept. 3, 2013.
United Airlines also has matched jetBlue's rates on both of its daily nonstops, which includes an afternoon departure at 4:30p.m. each day starting May 16, 2013. United's lower fares extend only through Sept. 3, 2013, when jetBlue's seasonal service is scheduled to end.
In addition, jetBlue will resume its seasonal nonstop service between Anchorage and Long Beach. Currently, jetBlue is offering roundtrip tickets on that flight for as little as $327 roundtrip. Alaska Airlines is offering an identical fare from Anchorage to LAX: $327 roundtrip on the carrier's nonstop flights.
Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based travel marketing consultant who has lived in Alaska for three decades, spending much of that time traveling the far-flung corners of the state. Visit his website at www.alaskatravelgram.com or follow him on Twitter for breaking travel news.